Downton Abbey and the High Style of Edwardian Jewelry

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The lavish, elaborate lacy necklaces, elegant drop earrings, and lacy sparkling brooches worn by the wealthy women in popular television series, Downton Abbey, have brought the glamour and class of Edwardian Era jewelry back to the 21st century.  The huge popularity of the series has women of all ages clamoring to own the fabulous jewelry of this golden age, featuring  high style platinum and diamond jewelry, and  colored stones with crystal accents.

Downton Abbey is produced by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and is shown in the United States on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) stations.  The historically accurate television series begins with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

The graceful pendant necklaces and  stud earrings with drops (Princess Kate wears these inherited royal pieces frequently)  are reminiscent of the high style jewelry of the Edwardian Era.  In Europe, this era is also known as the Belle Epoque or Beautiful Era.  Accurate reproductions of the jewelry pieces worn on the show are now sold by jewelers everywhere and are relatively inexpensive to own, thanks to modern technological advances in metallurgy and manufactured synthetic stones.

The Edwardian Era of jewelry was from 1896 – 1931.  Fifteen years prior to that time, during the Victorian era, women’s fashions began to change radically, as did jewelry design.  Advances in technology made production easier and less expensive.  As a result, more women – not just the rich – could afford to own jewelry. Lower necklines and changes in hairstyles created the desire for more necklaces, earrings and hair ornaments.

People of wealth who could afford  magnificent gemstones, real pearls, and precious metals, bought from French designers such Cartier, Bucheron, and Van Cleef.  American designers, Tiffany & Co. and Harry Winston, created jewelry with large high-quality faceted colored gemstones as focal points with diamond accent stones.

Cartier and the other jewelers based their jewelry designs on neo-classical architecture. Typical of the period were elaborate and airy garlands, bows, filigrees and sweeping scrolls that were an imitation of trailing vines. Precious stones like diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires were set in the strong and expensive metal, platinum. This allowed jewelry designers to set the stones in such a way that the metal was almost invisible, without the risk of the breaking or having a stone come loose. This design was made possible only because the oxyacetylene torch had been invented in 1895.

Women who could not afford gem quality stones wore small brooches or lockets affixed to velvet ribbons around their necks, or less significant gemstones used as studs in pierced ears.

To purchase Edwardian Era jewelry made from real stones and metals, visit Lang Antiques, to see a large selection of necklaces, rings, bracelets, and brooches.

Shop PBS has a Downton Abbey Jewellery Collection with inexpensive and beautiful pieces that would make any woman feel glamorous.